McCain on School Choice


Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is addressing an NAACP convention in Cincinnati today. His remarks touch on education and here's a preview courtesy of the Cincy Enquirer:

"If I am elected president, school choice for all who want it, an expansion of opportunity scholarships and alternative certification for teachers will all be part of a serious agenda of education reform," McCain said in the excerpts.

"After decades of hearing the same big promises from the public education establishment, and seeing the same poor results, it is surely time to shake off old ways and to demand new reforms," he said. "That isn't just my opinion. It is the conviction of parents in poor neighborhoods across this nation who want better lives for their children."

McCain's rival, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) spoke to the same group on Monday. The Enquirer's gloss: "Obama [said] he would push the government to provide more education and economic assistance, but he also urged blacks to demand more of themselves."

More here.

reason on education here.

Update: If you're interested in McCain's full remarks to the NAACP, go here. More details from the education section:

When a public system fails, repeatedly, to meet…minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children. Some parents may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private school. Many will choose a charter school. No entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity.

We should also offer more choices to those who wish to become teachers. Many thousands of highly qualified men and women have great knowledge, wisdom, and experience to offer public school students. But a monopoly on teacher certification prevents them from getting that chance. You can be a Nobel Laureate and not qualify to teach in most public schools today. They don't have all the proper credits in educational "theory" or "methodology"—all they have is learning and the desire and ability to share it. If we're putting the interests of students first, then those qualifications should be enough.

If I am elected president, school choice for all who want it, an expansion of Opportunity Scholarships, and alternative certification for teachers will all be part of a serious agenda of education reform.

That's pretty good rhetoric, for sure (and I say that as someone who would prefer the feds stay out of education). "Education presidents" have a way of disappointing their supporters, but those are some pretty powerful statements and it will be interesting to see if a) anyone really cares what presidential candidates think about education, b) if and how Obama responds, and c) how the teachers unions respond.

NEXT: Strip for the Principal

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  1. What an odd couple of positions

  2. What an odd couple of positions

    And the really neat thing about that comment is it doesn’t really matter to whom you are referring. No matter what, it’s true.

  3. School choice is an inevitability. The current system, no matter how much money thrown at it (it’s now about $16k per kid/year), no matter what regulation thrown at it (NCLB), results do not justify the costs.

    What will happen is the “take this $16k of tax money, spend it on your kid’s education however you like, but they must pass these exams” model.

  4. Anon-maybe this is because I’m from NJ, where the head of the NJEA is about as powerful as the governor, but I honestly think the teacher’s unions are too powerful for school choice to ever exist everywhere in the country.

  5. anon —

    The heat death of the universe is an inevitability. Everything short of that is merely a probability.

  6. PFJ – bingo! The head of the NJEA is in bed with Corzine, I’m convinced.

    My husband works for mechanical contractors who do business with the SDA (the development company that has the SOLE contract to build/improve schools in NJ). They are funded to the hilt and then some and still go over-budget regularly on jobs, but $$$ will never be taken away because the NJEA pushes and pushes for more money, more money, more money – because THAT is what will Solve Our Problems!

    Nevermind the double-dipping in pensions by some school administrators, bus drivers being paid overtime to charge cell phones, superintendents retiring from Abbot districts with 3/4 of a million dollars in unpaid sick and vacation days plus bonuses, etc., and a new school in Elizabeth that boasts an Olympic sized swimming pool and other elite phys ed facilities that go unused because the population of Elizabeth has no interest in such activities.

    School choice probably cannot exist in NJ. Our school funding is tied directly to our property tax rates, and there is no end in sight to that funding formula, no matter how much Corzine & Co. crow about improving it.

  7. Why should the federal government intervene in education? I realize that there is the funding issue, but states/districts should be able to decide what is best for them without interference from Washington.

  8. Did you hear about the budget meeting that Corzine had right before they voted on it? It was Corzin, Codey, the assembly president, and the two heads of the budget committees. Oh, also the head of the NJEA. Shockingly they did not touch the teacher’s pensions.

  9. I realize that there is the funding issue…

    Why is there a funding issue?

    What money can the Federal government raise that doesn’t come from the states in the first place.

    No, the problem is that state politicians won’t raise taxes because they know that they’ll be voted out. So they go to the Feds to get money they can pretend didn’t come out of their constituents’ pockets.

    The FedGov gets to spend money it doesn’t have. That’s the only magic the Feds have when it comes to revenue.

    And whoever’s paying the piper gets to call the tune.

  10. I realize that there is the funding issue…

    There’s only a funding issue if you think we have to spend more per-pupil on education than any other country on Earth (while maintaining one of the worst education systems in the industrialized world).

  11. “Obama [said] he would push the government to provide more education and economic assistance, but he also urged blacks to demand more of themselves.”

    What else would you expect of somebody who expects AFSCME and the NEA to put him in the White House?

  12. Why should the federal government intervene in education?

    It shouldn’t. The top down solution is broken from the get go.

  13. On a scale of 1 to 10, my opinion of McCain just went up two points… to -3

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